Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Chess Hayden: Rock, Paper, Scissors

By | Published on Friday 3 May 2024

We here at TW Towers love a dark comedy, so my interest was immediately piqued when I heard about ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’, which is on at The Hope Theatre shortly.

It’s about Dylan and Lucy, who are best friends and housemates, but after a tragic accident their relationship descends into chaos.

The play was written and is directed by Chess Hayden. I arranged a quick chat to find out more about the play, the cast, and her career and plans for the future.

CM: Can you start by telling us what ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ is all about? Whose story does it tell and what happens?
CH: The play focuses on Dylan and Lucy, best friends and housemates who, when faced with life-altering decisions, decide to use the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to make their choices for them.

As you can imagine, this has some dire consequences and Dylan’s ex-girlfriend Jemma inadvertently gets caught up in the mix as they attempt to cover their tracks. 

CM: What themes are explored through the play?
CH: The play explores themes of morality, accountability and survival, all whilst not taking itself too seriously in the process.

I like to juxtapose gritty dialogue and intensity with humour to really bring out the rawness of the characters. They are all flawed and that’s what makes them so interesting and relatable. 

CM: How would you describe it in terms of style or genre?
CH: I would say it’s a dark comedy with some farcical elements but a bit of an edge to it. There are some parts which are specifically choreographed and others which allow elements of improvisation from the actors, which I feel brings an interesting balance to both the pace and overall energy of the piece. 

CM: What was the inspiration for the show? What made you want to write a play about this?
CH: We use games of chance to make inconsequential decisions all the time, but what if we had that same approach to more precarious situations?

I was inspired to write something which takes a universally known game and turns it on its head. I love exploring the ideas which push characters in directions you wouldn’t normally expect them to take, and it’s always fun when you can inject some silliness amidst the chaos.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your cast?
CH: I’m so chuffed all three cast members were excited to reprise their roles, as they did such a fantastic job on the last run in October 2023.

Emma Lo, who plays Lucy, is a friend from acting school; we trained together and she’s been integral in helping bring everything together. Jimmy Roberts auditioned for the role of Dylan and absolutely encapsulated the character perfectly from the very beginning – his comedic timing is just incredible.

Funnily enough, when it came to casting Jemma, I had actually seen Megan Cooper in a lead role at New Wimbledon Theatre and thought she’d be fantastic. We have mutual friends in common, but I technically slid into her DM’s asking if she would be interested in the role and I’m so pleased she said yes!

CM: And can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you come to be pursuing an artistic career? Is this what you always wanted to do?
CH: I’ve always been creative and after graduating with a degree in Film, Theatre And Television I went into the producing and project management side of things, which has given me such valuable experience in being able to put on my own productions.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your script brought to life though, and in all honesty, it took me a while to start showing up for myself and putting my work out there. I’d get great feedback and then be nervous about pushing things forward, but sometimes things fall into place when you’re ready.

I’m leaning into my creative passion and seeing it come into fruition reminds me that this is where I want to keep my focus.

CM: What have been the highlights of your working life thus far?
CH: Oh, there’s a few! I produced live comedy shows in the West End at a time when we were launching a female and non-binary comedian bursary, and through that I actually ended up working on creative programming for the UNWomen HeforShe Arts week.

More recently, a definite top ten highlight is receiving such positive reviews from the first run of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ back in October 2023, and then being selected to have the show extended as part of The Hope’s 2024 Spring Season.

In about seven months I went from a draft script to directing a fully fledged production across two London theatres – it’s all been pretty hectic but such an exciting and rewarding experience!

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
CH: I’m really interested in working with other writers and producing new work. I have recently set up Stone Fox Media LTD, which will be an umbrella company for producing and directing, as well as developing any of my own writing further later down the line. You can follow us on Instagram – @stonefoxproductions – to keep up to date with upcoming projects.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
CH: I’m currently working on a new project which I am in the process of pitching to a number of theatres over the next month, and after that I’m focusing on taking ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ to Edinburgh Fringe in 2025 – so keep an eye out for us there!

‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ is on at The Hope Theatre from 7-11 May. For more information and to book tickets see the venue website here.  

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